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Tension Settings: Truly Unique Engagement Rings

By Mike Fried,

In tension settings, the diamond appears to be suspended in mid-air, held in place solely by the pressure exerted by the metal band on either side. This creates the illusion of the stone floating, adding a dramatic flair to the ring. The tension setting is not just about aesthetics; it also allows more light to pass through the diamond, enhancing its brilliance and sparkle. However, this setting requires precise craftsmanship, as the diamond and the band must be calibrated to fit perfectly.

When shopping for a tension setting ring, it’s crucial to choose a reputable vendor, as the setting is custom-made to securely hold the diamond. The setting works best with strong stones like diamonds, rubies, moissanites, and sapphires, and is particularly effective with round and princess cut diamonds due to their symmetry. Budget-wise, tension settings can be more expensive due to their custom nature and the high level of craftsmanship required. Expect to spend a bit more than you would on more traditional settings

Tension settign for a pear shape diamond with two tones of gold
Two-tone tension setting with a pear shape center diamond from James Allen

Here is what we’ll cover in this article:

What is a tension setting?
Why choose a tension engagement ring?
Proc & cons of a tension setting
Are tension settings safe?
Our top 5 picks of tension settings
Where is the best place to buy a tension setting ring?
Quick tips for buying a diamond for a tension setting

To help you with the diamond buying process we lean on our expertise and experience. The author of this article, our CEO, Mike Fried has over 20 years of experience in the diamond industry. Mike started from the bottom, sorting and evaluating hundreds of thousands of diamonds to learn every facet (pun intended) of diamond quality and value. Mike followed that up by spending years buying and selling diamonds on the wholesale market as well as selling tens of millions of dollars worth of diamonds to diamond retailers.

Bottom Line Recommendation

Tension settings are sleek, modern rings with a unique system for securing the diamond. Custom-made metal bands hold the diamond with pressure. This white gold tension ring from James Allen, for example, secures the diamond without prongs or metal surrounding the stone.

Additional tension-style rings exist, which look like tension settings but don’t hold the diamond through suspension. This yellow gold solitaire ring from James Allen, for instance, has similarities of a tension setting but adds extra security and design with its prongs.

Whether you decide on a full tension ring or a tension style ring, ensure you purchase one from a highly reputable vendor. Throughout our years of experience, we’ve learned that a few select diamond dealers are the most reliable and trustworthy. We recommend Blue Nile, James Allen and Brian Gavin Diamonds for the best value and quality.

What Is A Tension Setting?

In a tension setting, the tension of the metal band secures the diamond in place. As a result, the diamond appears suspended between the two sides of the shank, like in this rose gold setting from James Allen.

With the help of lasers to calibrate the exact dimensions of the diamond, the jeweler expertly cuts tiny grooves into the sides of the band or shank, so the diamond is literally held by the pressure of the custom metal band pushing into the sides of the stone.

A tension ring setting for men
Men’s tension engagement ring in yellow gold from Blue Nile

But tension settings go beyond just those that use the suspension to hold the diamond in place. Tension-style settings offer a comparable look but are less expensive and complicated to make.

Curious as to what the difference looks like? This rose gold tension engagement ring from James Allen uses the suspension to hold the diamond in place, while this princess cut ring from James Allen has the extra support of four prongs.

The tension-style settings also add an extra dose of security since a prong or bezel setting anchors the stone firmly in place either on the side or underneath the diamond.

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Why Choose A Tension Engagement Ring?

Tension settings and tension style rings are popular for engagement rings because they feature a unique design. Whether the diamond is held by suspension or simply looks like it does, it creates immediate appeal and intrigue.

Because not much metal surrounds the diamond, like in other settings, the diamonds in tension engagement rings reflect more light, offering more brilliance and sparkle.

Many tension settings feature a large, thick band, making them suitable as men’s rings as well as for women. We’ve listed several of these unisex or men’s tension set rings further down the page, along with our thoughts on what makes each example so unique and appealing.

close-up of a yellow gold bypass tension setting
Intertwined bypass tension setting engagement ring from Blue Nile

With a modern feel and a custom-made setting, tension engagement rings are special and unique. Whether it’s a princess cut pave ring like this one from James Allen or a tension engagement ring with bezel support, it’ll be a keepsake for years to come.

Tension Settings for Every Shape

Almost any diamond shape can function within a tension setting, but these settings often work best with round cut and princess cut diamonds. The secure support and modern feel of tension settings make them a stylish choice—no matter the type of precious metal.

Modern tension settings are available in all of the same metals as other engagement rings, from white, yellow and rose gold to platinum. 

Tension engagement ring examples:

Pros and Cons Of A Tension Setting

Every setting style has its advantages and disadvantages. Because the tension setting is a unique design, it’s important to review the pros and cons of this type of engagement ring before making your final decision.


  • Holds the diamond securely in place
  • Enhances light reflection (brilliance and fire), due to minimal metal surrounding the diamond
  • Offers a unique appearance
  • Involves less maintenance than prong settings
  • Features a modern, stylish look
  • Suitable for women or men, with a range of men’s tension rings available


Like other engagement ring settings, tension set diamond rings do have some problems. Most of these are quite minor, although it’s still important to be aware of them if you’re considering a setting of this type.

  • Often expensive and difficult to resize
  • May cause a small carat weight diamond to appear smaller, especially when thick metal is used
  • Although highly unlikely, there’s a possibility the stone could become loose if extreme pressure from an outside force strikes a tension setting

Are Tension Set Rings Safe?

”Although striking and unusual, a tension setting may be a riskier choice for an engagement ring. The diamond, which appears to be suspended in air, is held in place by the inherent force in the two opposing sides of the metal setting.” Gemological Institute of America (GIA)

At first glance, a tension set engagement ring can look quite precarious. After all, how can the diamond stay snug and securely held between the bands when it has such a small amount of contact with either side of the ring? Luckily, tension set rings are very secure and safe, with an extremely low risk of the center diamond or gemstone coming loose. 

There are several reasons why tension set rings are able to securely hold a diamond. The first is the amount of tensile force that’s exerted on the diamond by the ring. Pressure is exerted on the diamond from both sides, holding it securely in place with little risk of it coming loose.

Although they’re difficult to see, tension settings feature small grooves cut into either side of the band to hold the diamond in place. These grooves are small and difficult to see without looking at the diamond up close. The purpose of these grooves is to stop the diamond from slipping.

The final result of these features is a setting that, despite appearances, is completely capable of holding the center diamond or gemstone securely in place.

Now, with this said, it’s possible (albeit very unlikely) for the diamond to come loose if the ring is struck by an outside force with extreme pressure. For this reason, the tension setting is regarded as a slightly riskier choice than some other engagement ring settings.

However, the amount of pressure that would be needed to damage a tension set ring and cause the diamond to come loose is extremely high — so much so that most other engagement ring settings would also be damaged, potentially causing the diamond to come loose.

Best Tension Set Diamond Ring Designs

Considering a tension set engagement ring for your proposal? Below, we’ve shared some of the most impressive tension settings available, modern tensions rings in metals such as white, rose and yellow gold to a range of unique women’s and men’s tension rings.

Contoured Twist Tension Set Engagement Ring

rose gold Twist Tension Engagement Ring
Twist tension set engagement ring in rose gold from James Allen

Another unique, eye-catching setting, this contoured twist tension set engagement ring features a chunky, contoured design, with the center diamond held between the two bands of metal with no prongs. 

Like many other tension settings, this is a very thick ring, with a width of 5.5mm, meaning it may make diamonds of a small carat weight appear smaller. It’s available in 14K rose gold (pictured), yellow gold, white gold and platinum.

Spiral Tension Set Engagement Ring

Spiral Tension Set Engagement Ring
Spiral tension engagement ring in white gold from James Allen

This spiral tension setting has a dramatic appearance, with the diamond held securely between two metal bands using vertical pressure. This setting’s design makes the sides of the diamond visible, allowing for extra light to enter and create stunning brilliance and sparkle.

Pictured in platinum, this tension set engagement ring is also available in white, yellow and rose gold.

Modern Leaf Bypass Engagement Ring

close-up of a yellow gold leaf designed bypass tension ring
Modern leaf bypass engagement ring in yellow gold from James Allen

Although it isn’t a pure tension setting, this stylish bypass engagement ring uses a bypass leaf design to hold the center diamond in place between gorgeous smaller side stones. With a slim 3.6mm shank, this setting can look stunning with even a modestly sized diamond. 

As with the other tension engagement rings on this page, it’s available in a wide range of high quality metals, including 18K yellow gold (pictured), white gold, rose gold and platinum.

Pointed and Etched Tension Set Engagement Ring

Modern etched tension ring
Pointed and etched tension engagement ring from James Allen

This eye-catching contemporary tension setting holds the center diamond vertically between its two bands. Like the spiral tension ring above, this allows the diamond to be seen from a variety of angles and increases the amount of light that can enter into the stone.

With its etched shank and sleek, ultra-modern looks, this tension set engagement ring is sure to attract attention and make an impression. Pictured in 14K white gold, it’s also available in yellow gold, rose gold and platinum. 

V-Ring Tension Set Style

Unusual Tension Setting Style
V-Ring tension setting style from Brian Gavin

This is a very unusual tension setting style ring. The band is curved into a V-shape holding the diamond between the side of one end and the front part of the other allowing the light pass through from various angles. This unique setting is meant to be the center of attention anywhere you go.

Besides the gorgeous platinum, you can get this ring in 18K gold of all three kinds – white, yellow and rose.

Where To Buy Tension Diamond Engagement Rings

Because your tension engagement ring will be custom-made, it’s essential that you choose a highly reputable vendor. Your tension setting should be made with the utmost care, ensuring that your diamond is secure.

Contoured 14K yellow gold with twist tension set engagement diamond
Twist contoured tension engagement ring setting in yellow gold from James Allen

Luckily, there are several vendors that offer trustworthy craftsmanship and care for tension settings. Throughout our years of experience, we’ve vetted several diamond vendors.

The dealers we list below are the most reliable in the business. They offer extensive collections of diamond rings and settings at excellent prices. All diamonds come with an AGS or GIA certificate—allowing you to trust what they’re selling you.

If you have questions about these vendors, send us an email.

James Allen

James Allen carries a large inventory of tension style rings and other settings as well. They’re known for their excellent customer service and their incredible diamond imagery. You can view each diamond up-close before making your purchase.

Brian Gavin Diamonds

Brian Gavin offers a range of custom engagement rings, including unique tension styles. With their “Brian Gavin Signature” Hearts & Arrows collection, they feature some of the best cut diamonds in the world.

Leibish & Co. (Gemstone Alternative)

Looking for a colorful alternative to a diamond? Consider the rings at Leibish & Co. They offer tension settings for colored diamonds and colored gemstones. Leibish designs all of their jewelry and rings with high-quality settings.

Evaluating a Diamond Ring for Beauty and Value

At Diamond Pro, our goal is to help you find the most stunning diamond at the best price. Our library of Diamond Pro resources can help you make a well-informed decision on your engagement ring purchase.

  • Diamond cut: The characteristic that most greatly impacts a diamond’s beauty and brilliance is its Cut. For this reason, we highly recommend choosing only Excellent or Ideal diamonds.
  • Diamond shape: Review our diamond shape guide to decide which shape matches your fiancé-to-be’s style and personality.
  • Diamond clarity chart: Our main recommendation is to find a diamond that’s eye clean. Your diamond doesn’t need to be flawless when under magnification, so be sure to review your diamond closely with your own eyes. Blemishes and inclusions can’t often be seen by the naked eye at VS1 clarity or VS2 clarity. While you can pay more for a higher clarity grade, it’s likely to go unnoticed.
  • Diamond color scale: Ultimately, make sure your diamond appears white in relation to its setting color. A diamond in the G to I range will appear colorless and cost far less than a diamond in the D to F range.

Want guidance on selecting a diamond? Email our experts.

Here are more specific setting style topics to browse:

James Allen James Allen is the leader in online diamond sales. Their imaging technology is the same as inspecting a diamond with a jeweler's loupe. They have the largest exclusive loose diamond inventory online and fantastic prices. They also have the nicest collection of lab-created diamonds online.
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. James Allen will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free International Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisals
  • One free resizing within 60 days of purchase
  • Free ring inscriptions
  • Best-in-class high quality imagery of all diamonds in stock
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • Best-in-class packaging
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Blue Nile Blue Nile is the largest and most well-known internet jewelry seller. They have a very large exclusive online inventory. Their high-quality images are catching up to James Allens' and their prices are amazing. Save 25% on settings at Blue Nile!

Please enter your email address to receive your 25% off coupon code:

What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. Blue Nile will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisal
  • One free resizing within the first year of purchase
  • High quality images of about half of their diamonds
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • 100% credit towards future upgrades (must be at least double in value)
  • Best in class fulfillment
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About the author

Mike Fried Mike Fried Mike Fried has over 25 years experience in the diamond industry working with Leo Schachter Diamonds, Moshe Namdar Diamonds, and joining The Diamond Pro in 2007. He is recognized as an industry expert and has been quoted in publications such as Us, People, Page Six, The Next Web and more.

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